Since January – shortly after Liverpool last played Wolves (and lost) – eight players have been signed with an eye on the first-team squad.
No matter what was paid for them, there was no way all would settle into their groove; it just doesn’t work that way.
And anyway, some were bought to merely challenge for the first XI; after all, it’s not a first XV. Not everyone can get a ‘fair chance’ to play because there’s just not enough spaces in the team.
Some players take an age to settle or become key components; as much as two or three years springs to mind with big-club players Nani, Anderson, Malouda, Hleb and Flamini. (In the case of the Arsenal pair, they came to life just in time to leave.)
Outsiders may say the same about Lucas at Liverpool, whose talents seemed lost on all but the most astute spectators. Even so, despite his underrated qualities at the start, he has gone from strength to strength, in no small part down to the departure of world-class midfielders in Alonso and Mascherano, but also because, at the age of 24, he is maturing.
I could provide a list of dozens of Premier League players – whether from England or abroad – who took at least a year to settle after a transfer, and then there are those who, around their mid-20s, went from being good Premier League players to great ones (Lampard and Carragher spring to mind.)
So none of the 2011 signings can be judged conclusively (although genius is recognisable when you see it in a number seven shirt). However, here’s my breakdown of how the Liverpool eight have been doing so far, on what, in these early days, remains limited evidence.
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